by Chuck Carroll

LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — Against a trio of rookies in the Atlanta Falcons secondary, Kirk Cousins performed well. It’s true the Washington Redskins committed seven turnovers in the narrow loss, but only two were interceptions thrown by Cousins.

Robert Griffin III’s backup completed 29 of 45 passes for 381 yards with three touchdowns on Sunday. His magnificent performance was good enough to keep Washington in the game despite a -5 turnover ratio. That’s unheard of.

If indeed he is being given an audition and the Redskins are prepared to use him as trade bait this offseason, Cousins could not have asked for three better games to take over for Griffin. Atlanta was soft and the Dallas Cowboys are ranked dead last in the league in defending the pass. In the season finale, the New York Giants should prove to be a little tougher but nothing to write home about.

If Cousins plays well enough, the Redskins could easily replenish a depleted draft pick pile with a high-round selection in exchange for the quarterback.

Or, perhaps, if he plays exceedingly well, Washington could find themselves with a new franchise quarterback. Griffin did majorly regress in his sophomore season, didn’t he? Hey, it could happen!

Hold the phone.

“Let’s not get carried away with one game, OK? It’s one game. That’s all it is,” Mike Shanahan said Monday.

There is no question. There is no debate. This is still Robert Griffin III’s football team. He is still the face of the Washington Redskins. Period.

“Robert is clearly our starting quarterback,” Shanahan added.

The benching of Griffin goes beyond the health reasons that have been publicly stated. This shutdown also serves as a motivational tool for the face of the franchise to pick up his slumping game.

Despite reports of a fractured relationship between the quarterback and coach, one could conclude Shanahan’s decision here is just a case of tough love. Not necessarily love of the person, but an overall passion for winning.

And, of course, it also stirs a pot already thick with turmoil that many believe will boil over and lead to Shanahan’s ouster at season’s end, if not sooner.

But at face value, the benching is for motivation.

“If you’re going to play somebody just because you drafted him in the first round or the sixth round or the seventh round and you’re going to keep him there just because you drafted him or you sign a guy with a big signing bonus, you lose respect by your football team,” Shanahan said. “The teams I’ve been on, the great ones, have always had that type of competition regardless of what their position was or the money they made or where they were drafted… We’ve got some competition at a lot of different positions for next year and the best players will play.”

The question now is how Griffin will respond.

Follow Chuck Carroll and 106.7 The Fan on Twitter.

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